Sheep industry slams FSA’s ‘ill-judged’ ad

A food hygiene advertising campaign has been described as a "disgrace" by the sheep meat industry.

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) campaign shows a well-presented lamb chop in a urinal, in order to get consumers to check food hygiene ratings in eateries. But the image has led the National Sheep Association (NSA) to urge the FSA to re-think its message, while Eblex sector director Nick Allen described the advert as "ill-judged" and said it unfairly associated lamb with food safety issues.

Adding weight to his argument, Allen said official figures showed lamb was rarely associated with food poisoning and said, while Eblex supported the FSA’s aim to promote good hygiene standards in restaurants, using lamb as a "poster boy" was "ill-judged".

Allen said: "The image of a lamb dish in a urinal undoubtedly associates our product with poor food hygiene, while the reality is that lamb, and red meat in general, is rarely linked with food poisoning.

"As an industry we are very proud of the lamb we produce and the high standards throughout our supply chain. It is extremely disappointing that an organisation such as the Food Standards Agency should call into question consumer trust in our product in this way."

Missed The Point

Meanwhile, the FSA defended its campaign and said Eblex and the NSA had "completely missed the point", and the advert was about food establishments, not the food itself.

However, Scotland development officer for the NSA George Milne said: "This advert is an absolute disgrace and portrays lamb in the worst possible way. Sheep farmers in the UK produce lamb to such an incredibly high standard – we have farm assurance inspections, full food-chain traceability, in-depth animal health and medicine records – and now we are faced with this photograph of lovely lamb cutlets in the bottom of a toilet."

Milne went on to say that the meat industry spends a lot of money each year promoting the quality of lamb, which should not be undermined by the FSA, adding "How could anyone in authority have given this the green light?"

Complaints

Both the NSA and Eblex have written complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), on the grounds that the campaign is misleading, based on statistics that lamb is not as much of a hygiene risk as other meats.

A spokesperson from the FSA said: "The advert does show some delicious-looking lamb in a strange setting. We are not saying there is a problem with lamb. We are simply reminding consumers to check hygiene standards when eating out, and not just the appearance of an establishment, as this could be deceptive. We trust the intelligence of the public on this one. We don’t think anyone will be put off eating lamb by this advert."

An ASA spokesperson said: “We haven’t received any complaints at this stage. Nor can we comment on whether or not action would be taken should a complaint be lodged. However, if we do receive a complaint, then the ad would be assessed to determine whether or not it was in breach of the advertising rules.”

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